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Inequality in the Food System

Animating Questions

  • What does it look like to decolonize a food system?
  • How might we shift more power to communities in order to create sustainable and equitable food systems?
  • How can we evaluate current efforts in community-led economic development through food?
  • How can we inform philanthropic investment in community to enable shared power in decision making and to build sustainable community wealth?
  • How can we bring research expertise to bear in partnership with community-based organizations?

Projects

Peer Reviewed Research Papers

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Food Pantry Use and Barriers in Massachusetts during the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Marriott JP, Fiechtner L, Birk NW, Taitelbaum D, Odoms-Young A, Wilson NL, Clay LA, Zack RM. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Food Pantry Use and Barriers in Massachusetts during the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nutrients. 2022; 14(12):2531. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14122531

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Food Choice With Economic Scarcity and Time Abundance: A Qualitative Study

Folta, Sara C., Oyedolapo Anyanwu, Jennifer Pustz, Jennifer Oslund, Laura Paige Penkert, and Norbert Wilson. “Food Choice With Economic Scarcity and Time Abundance: A Qualitative Study.” Health Education & Behavior : The Official Publication of the Society for Public Health Education 49, no. 1 (February 2022): 150–58. https://doi.org/10.1177/10901981211045926.

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Grocery receipts

Putting grocery food taxes on the table: Evidence for food security policy-makers

Yuqing Zheng, Jianqiang (Jason) Zhao, Steven Buck, Shaheer Burney, Harry M. Kaiser, Norbert L. Wilson. Putting grocery food taxes on the table: Evidence for food security policy-makers. Food Policy 101 (2021) 102098

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Gizem book chapter

Chapter 17: Future Challenges, Trends, and Opportunities

Abstract Today, via trade and/or food aid, almost everyone around the planet has access to food that is not grown locally. With this globalization and commodification of food, we now have a much more complex food system. Understanding the food system, as well as predicting future trends, is more difficult than ever before. According to the 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects, the world population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.9 billion by the end of the century. The estimated population growth adds further pressure to the global food system that is currently struggling to feed…

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Fast Food

Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States

Cooksey-Stowers, K.; Schwartz, M.B.; Brownell, K.D. Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 2017, 14, 1366. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14111366

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Reports

Report Cover - The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on US Hunger Relief Organizations

Survey Analysis: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on U.S. Hunger Relief Organizations (August-November 2020)

This study is a detailed and nuanced story about COVID-19’s impact on food insecurity in the U.S. through the experiences of private, charitable non-profit organizations. These Hunger Relief Organizations (HROs), such as Food Banks, food pantries, and anti-hunger Advocacy Organizations, were on the front lines of food assistance, ensuring people who were in need got access to food during the most worrisome months of the pandemic. This research sampled the experiences and activities of these HROs across the U.S. from June through September 2020. Goals of the research inquiry To document the actions, needs, barriers, and successes of Hunger Relief…

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Cover Image - Communities in Partnership Case Study

Food Justice Case Study: Communities in Partnership

This report presents a multi-year case study of Communities in Partnership (CIP), a predominantly Black women-led, Black women founded, community-accountable organization that addresses social determinants of health through interconnected programs addressing food justice, entrepreneurship, and workforce development, affordable housing, transformative justice, and leadership development. This case study is intended to maintain its specificity and local contextuality while pointing to some key themes that may have broader utility for other organizations. This report is co-authored by the World Food Policy Center (WFPC) and CIP. These organizations have collaborated on community participatory research & capacity-building projects for over four years. The WFPC…

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Cover Image - NC Food System Resilience Stratey

Research Brief: North Carolina Food System Resilience Strategy

This strategy brief focuses on North Carolina and contextualizes the current moment against the historical landscape. The audience for this project is philanthropy. As a group with substantial power, it asks how philanthropy can be a partner to address some of the most entrenched inequities. How, in other words, can philanthropy help create more equity and resiliency in the North Carolina food system? COVID-19’s effect on the food system has been complex. Despite the pandemic’s initial shock to supply chains, the system has largely functioned as intended. Yet that is not necessarily a relief for many, who have experienced harm…

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Cover Image - NC Food System Resilience Stratey

North Carolina Food System Resilience Strategy

This project focuses on North Carolina and contextualizes the current moment against the historical landscape. The audience for this project is philanthropy. As a group with substantial power, it asks how philanthropy can be a partner to address some of the most entrenched inequities. How, in other words, can philanthropy help create more equity and resiliency in the North Carolina food system? A Strategy Brief version of the report is also available.

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Racial Inequities in Food Systems – An Analysis of the Mexican and Brazilian Cases

The goal of this project was to analyze how racial inequities play out in food systems in Mexico and Brazil, as well as to identify gaps in the existing scholarship on the topic in these countries. The Latin American narrative of racial mixing creating post-racial societies (known as mestizaje/mestiçagem) is the backdrop for this analysis. Although large racial disparities show up in both countries’ food systems, ideas of mestizaje heavily influence the scholarship produced on the topic and often obscure the racial aspect of social inequities. Executive Summary The majority of the literature on the topic of racial inequities in…

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Power & Benefit on the Plate – The History of Food in Durham, North Carolina

This report is an exploration of the history of Durham, North Carolina through the lens of food, agriculture and land. The goal of this research was to understand the inequities in Durham’s food landscape today through analysis of the impact of social policies on Durham’s various communities over time. This research identified compelling evidence of systemic inequity in policy and policy implementation that helps to explain the lived realities of Durham’s communities today. The author presents Durham’s food history through the following six themes: Power & Benefit The story of food in Durham is fundamentally a story of power. This…

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Rural Child Hunger & Faith Community Engagement

This report focuses on rural child hunger and represents a joint effort of the World Food Policy Center at Duke University and Share Our Strength. The report combines a review of existing literature with key informant interviews to illustrate current practices and future opportunities for faith communities to address rural child hunger. We highlight notable community and faith-based responses to rural food insecurity. Such efforts seek to overcome challenges such as the stigma and low nutritional quality of food assistance as well as the bureaucratic and political barriers to program implementation. We also recommend ways to support, expand, and partner…

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Identifying and Countering White Supremacy Culture in Food Systems

This research centered on the question: How does white supremacy culture play out in the food insecurity and food access space in the United States? To become anti-racist, food system actors must understand how white supremacy culture narratives function to center whiteness across the food system, effectively reinforcing systemic racial inequality and by extension disadvantaging BIPOC people. We discuss how whiteness holds white ideals as universal, how whiteness fuels power in decisionmaking, and how whiteness defines foods as either good or bad.

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How Innovative CDFIs Fund Equitable Food Oriented Development

We Meet Businesses Where They Are This report explores how three Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) drive economic growth in low-income and historically marginalized communities through Equitable Food Oriented Development (EFOD), a community development model that supports locally owned food-based economies (EFOD Collaborative, 2019). The report presents an overview of systemic financial barriers that business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs face in marginalized communities. The EFOD framework illustrates the types of lending and investing needed to support such businesses. Some financial institutions are more effective than others at providing this support. This research seeks to understand the practices of CDFIs that…

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Concept Paper: Leveraging the Food Economy for a More Equitable Durham

This concept paper develops a case for leveraging Equitable Food Oriented Development (EFOD) as a strategy for strengthening Durham, North Carolina’s community stability. As Durham prepares to build infrastructure for inclusive and equitable development, it can target food systems for greater impact. Using the EFOD criteria in planning will support the generation of community-owned and led businesses that reflect the unique culture of Durham. The City can create mechanisms for EFOD by providing access to capital and technical assistance. Effective capital will leverage both private and public funds to build a seed fund. Managed by CDFIs, these funds could provide…

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